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FORT SMITH’S BEST MARGARITAS

BY ALEX GLADDEN

As a recent 21'er, I went on a journey to find the best margaritas in Fort Smith. I evaluated four establishments that my peers recommended to me and ended the night quite happily.


El Zarape

Address: 8909 Rogers Ave, Fort Smith
Price: $
Taste Rating: Excellent

I enlisted the help of a friend, and we began our night at El Zarape. I pulled open the intricately designed doors and stepped into the restaurant. We were quickly seated and ordered our frozen margaritas. The frozen delicacies came in small, medium and large.

Our waiter showed us the different sizes in a Vanna White fashion. They were all hefty portions, with the largest size reaching fishbowl status. The margaritas soon arrived - the small even a satisfying weight in my hand. I examined my drink - disappointed because the rim lacked the expected margarita salt. But the drink packed a punch that was evident from the strong taste of tequila.

I sucked down my drink - pleased with my $4.50 purchase and even more pleased after I learned that El Zarape offers a hot deal that allows you to buy a margarita at $4.50 and buy a second for a penny.


La Huerta

Address: 400 Garrison Ave, Fort Smith
Price: $
Taste Rating: Average

We sat out on the patio at La Huerta, soaking up the downtown experience. Dusk was just upon us, and we relished the night air. At La Huerta, we chowed down on Mexican food, as I embarked on my next margarita. El Zarape’s food prices had proved too expensive for our college-student budgets, and I went with La Huerta’s always-delicious Steven Special.

The frozen margarita was $4.29, cheaper than my El Zarape marg but not nearly as tasty. The La Huerta margarita had a biting aftertaste that made it difficult to finish the drink, and the ice was not blended as well as I would have liked.


Rolando’s Restaurant

Address: 917 N A St, Fort Smith
Price: $$
Taste Rating: Good

We made our way from La Huerta to Rolando’s on foot. The joint closes at 9 p.m., and we scooted in at about 8:30 p.m. We ordered our drinks at the bar, and the bartender chatted with us a bit. She had short, curly white hair and a wealth of knowledge about every alcohol I could name. She brought us free chips and salsa, a chunky mixture of corn, tomatoes and assorted salsa veggies.

Although Rolando’s doesn’t make frozen margaritas, my margarita of choice, the on-the-rocks variety the restaurant serves, was superb. Just holding the glass made me feel fancier, and the pretty drink had fruit bobbing in it. The floating fruit, a strawberry, blackberry, blueberry, orange and lime had soaked up the flavors of the margarita, and to top it all off, an additional lime rested on the salted rim of the drink.

The bartender offered me more fruit after I finished mine off, but I had to refuse - content to sip down the rest of my $5.55 drink, a bit more expensive than my previous two margaritas but worth every penny.


Rooster’s Blues Bar

Address: 801 Garrison Ave, Fort Smith
Price: $$$
Taste Rating: Average

We made it to our last stop of the night.The bartender had us sign a guestbook, as the bar is officially a private club. I sat up at a barstool and ordered my last margarita. She delivered my small margarita in a flimsy plastic cup - a far cry from the pretty drink at Rolando’s.

The bar required a $10 charge to open a tab, or I would only be able to order one drink. And as it was my last bar of the night, I wasn’t sure that I would want to finish at just one. I took a swig of my $7 drink and flinched at the painful sweetness of it. I tried to finish it as quickly as I could - certain that I could do better at home with margarita mix. I quickly ordered a different drink to wash my mouth of the sweet taste and finished up the night.


OVERALL WINNER OF BEST MARGARITA: El Zarape

Reflecting back on the night, El Zarape is my clear favorite. The restaurant had the best deal, buy one margarita and buy another at a penny, and the tastiest frozen margarita.